I’ve been teaching Reading and Writing Workshop for awhile now and one of the biggest challenges I’ve faced is keeping anecdotal notes about my students. I’ve tried a ton of different systems: checklists, stickers, sticky notes, clipboards, evernote, excel, even google forms… but I’ve always struggled to stick with it. After I left the classroom and became an instructional coach I found an app that was created in response to this problem. It’s called Confer and was created by David Lowe because he had the same problem I did (which makes me think that maybe I’m not alone. And that always makes you feel better.) Confer is designed to help you keep track of which students you’ve talked with, record teaching points, conferencing notes, reading levels, have pre-created notes that you can check after you’ve talked with a student and even record photographs of student work all within the app. You can group students and track who you have talked to recently and who you need to meet with. I asked a group of teachers to try this out and got really positive feedback about the app and how it helped them keep track of conferences easier.
Also, Snapfolio, another note-taking app that is supposed to take Confer to the next level will be coming out soon. To get the scoop on that check it out here.
This will come up again below but the big concern with the app is the same as with any anecdotal note system. Whatever you decide to use, you have to commit to it and stick with it. Confer does require a little bit of set up in the beginning (setting up your class, plugging in data about each student, etc.) and how much set up you do is determined by how much information you want about each student. It also requires you to pause after the conference to record what you talked about so that the app continues to be useful, but again, that’s true with any anecdotal note system.
This is great for reading and writing workshop in particular but can be used for anyone who wants to record information about their students and take anecdotal notes.
Absolutely! I’m going to be working as a 3rd grade teacher next year and am looking forward to trying out Confer and Snapfolio!
Medium (See my notes under concerns)
There is a free version that you can try out that let’s you test the system. But in order to actually use the app for your class you will need to purchase it for $24.99 in your preferred app store.